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Poets Know It: Rhyme Doesn’t Pay : Funding: A group that stages poetry readings around the county is calling it quits next month.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Poets Reading Inc. has reached its final stanza: After more than three years of operation, the popular organization has decided to close the verse book for good, primarily because of a lack of funding, officials said Thursday.

Co-founder Michael Logue, who quit as executive director in late May after working without pay since 1988, said he could find no one to take on the voluntary position. The group failed to secure government or corporate funding to hire a director and keep the group afloat, Logue said.

“Those of us who have been keeping it alive are so burned out, we don’t have the energy” to continue applying for grants, Logue said in an interview Thursday.

The Fullerton-based group, which staged as many as four poetry readings monthly around Orange County, will hold its final reading on Sept. 12 at Costa Mesa’s Blue Marble Coffeehouse. The final issue of its publication, The Quarterly, will be released within the next month or so, Logue said.

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Lee Mallory, who produces the Factory Readings of poetry in Santa Ana, said the demise of Poets Reading Inc. will create a gap in North County culture, even though there are other, smaller-scale poetry presentations there.

“It will be sorely missed,” Mallory said. “Poets Reading has been one of the most professional (poetry groups) in the county, from a standpoint of talent, organization and energy.”

Poets Reading Inc., which began with informal readings at a Fullerton bookstore, provided a forum for novice and professional poets from the county and elsewhere. It drew audiences of up to 200 at its semimonthly Fullerton Museum Center readings. It also offered scholarships to local writing students and published two works--the latest an anthology of poems related to the Persian Gulf War printed in December--in addition to its quarterly journal.

“I had always intended to let it go at three to five years of age,” said Logue, who will pursue his desktop publishing business. “I just always assumed I would have it better positioned” to turn it over to someone else.

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Other county arts organizations are also feeling the financial pinch. The Pacific Symphony and Grove Shakespeare Festival, for example, are facing six-figure operating deficits this year.


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